Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Black History Month - Hattie McDaniel

Well, here we are February 29, 2012 (Leap Year), and to bring an end to Black History Month it is only fitting that we discuss Ms. Hattie McDaniel.  Her name has come up in MANY recent conversations due to the recent Academy award nomination that Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer received for their roles as maids in the movie "The Help".


Hattie McDaniel was born June 10, 1895 in Wichita, Kansas to former slaves and she died in Woodland Hills, California on October 26, 1952 due to breast cancer.  Hattie McDaniel was an African American woman of many talents including being an actress of film and stage, professional singer-songwriter, radio performer, and television star.  Hattie is best known for her role as "Mammy" in Gone With The Wind.  Ms. McDaniel was nominated for and WON a best supporting actress Academy Award for her role as "Mammy" in Gone With The Wind.  Hattie McDaniel was the FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN actress to ever win an Academy Award.  According to Biography.com, "Though the honor was significant, McDaniel often faced criticism from the liberal black community for acting in roles considered to further stereotypes about African-Americans".  I have NEVER watched the movie "Gone With The Wind" so I do not know Hattie from that film.  However I do remember her from playing a servant in the movie "The Little Colonel" with Shirley Temple.
Sadly, Hattie had to battle racist Hollywood as well as her own Black people.  Even though Hattie had won an Academy Award, Hollywood continued to develop roles which stereotyped Blacks in subservient roles and African Americans continue to fight against the system that subjugated Blacks and Hattie was stuck in the middle.
I believe that Ms. Hattie McDaniel deserves honor for her accomplishment in a racist Hollywood environment!  Hattie McDaniel wanted to be buried in the Hollywood Cemetery, however even in death. America was racist and segregated and she was denied entrance to the cemetery.  She was buried in Rosedale Cemetery instead.  
According to Wikipedia
In 1999, Tyler Cassity, the new owner of the Hollywood Cemetery, who had renamed it Hollywood Forever Cemetery, wanted to right the wrong and offered to have McDaniel interred in the cemetery. Her family did not want to disturb her remains and declined the offer. Hollywood Forever Cemetery instead built a large cenotaph memorial on the lawn overlooking the lake in honor of McDaniel.
To learn more about Hattie McDaniel go HERE, HERE, and HERE!


Blessings All,
Happy Black History Month!
Regina

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